The Easter weekend was upon us and there were still the finishing touches to do to get Just 17 ready for the season. Saturday was spent loading the cabin with all the bits and pieces needed for a short cruise and fitting the cockpit locker hatches. Come what may, Diana and I had promised ourselves a short cruise on Easter day.
During the week I had finally got round to giving the cockpit locker hatches a quick coat of Five Year Wood Stain. Last year it had stood up very well, and didn't look worn at all, but I felt I might as well keep on top of things. It certainly hadn't faired so well on the rubbing strakes on the gunwales. There, with the constant scuffing over the winter, bare wood was showing through. That would be something that would have to wait till a little later in the season.
Inside the cabin, I had spent some time thinking about additional storage. Diana had bought herself a new sleeping bag a while ago and weekend cruising for the pair of us was on the cards. I was no longer going to be able to use the second bunk to toss all my gear. The set of wine glasses (a requirement for cruising, Diana insisted), I had eventually decided would be hung from a slotted wooden bracket to be hung from the ceiling above the cooker./ The trouble was I still needed to get the wood to make the bracket. I wanted some mahogany to match the rest of the galley.
However, it was general storage shelving that was a much bigger problem. Did I need to retain the ability to store the Porta Potti? In previous seasons, I had ended up putting the toilet on the spare bunk and sliding it under the cockpit. That had worked very well with just one aboard, but Diana would need that space for her own gear. How was I to make use of the space opposite the cooker, behind the shelf on which the toilet had been designed to sit? Currently, I fitted the draining board extension there, leaning against the slope of the hull. Should I create some kind of deep bin to chuck things in and mount the draining board more vertically on the front of it.
On the other hand, would things look neater if I tried to produce a set of shelves that matched those on the port side? Eventually, I had a plan - at least for the forward part. I would create a shelf to match that over the sink, but I was still undecided about the area opposite the cooker. In the end the decision was, wait till the end of the season. It was going to be too much trouble to try and construct anything at the mooring. I would wait until the boat came home.
That was Saturday done. Just 17 was ready. Easter Sunday was a different matter. Gone was the blue sky with light fluffy clouds. It stayed overcast all day - but we'd promised ourselves a sail, so we got down to the boat in the late afternoon.
We hoisted the sails and cast off from the mooring at the head of the dyke. It was at that very moment that Glenn, landlord of the Pleasure Boat, appeared on the opposite bank. "Did you know the whole Hunter fleet are due in at four o' clock?" he called. "Oh!", said Diana and I in unison, as we looked at our watches and saw it was already just after four. "Well, we'll just put our nose out of the dyke and see if we can see them." I said in response, and with that we slowly gathered speed as we passed down the dyke.
As soon as we cleared the dyke and could see down the broad, one of the boats was already in full view and more sails could be seen over the reeds beyond Jarvis Point. This was, indeed, to be a much shorter initial cruise than planned. Soon two more boats had joined Wood Avens and were circling each other in front of the Club House of Hickling Broad Sailing Club.
As soon as we see the first of the Hunter boats make for the dyke we give chase and follow them into the dyke. They have their main down and are under jib alone as they pass Skylarking one of the two Mistral Craft SeaHawks that are found on Hickling these days. It's a squeeze to get back into our berth with Wood Avens already at the head of the dyke, but we manage the turn.
It was only then that Diana complained that I haven't managed to take a photo of her that she could use to illustrate her Facebook page, so I take one and tell her that we'll caption it "About to cast off!" as no one would know the difference. Perhaps only an expert would be suspicious about the way the main sheet is being held a little tight and guess that the sail had already been stowed!
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